IMDb Top 250, finally!


Spirited Away, IMDb #29

Yesterday I accomplished watching the IMDb Top 250 movies. I have been keeping track of the movies I watch since about 2002, but it was not until about four years ago that I decided to watch all of the movies on the top 250 list. I got to 240 about a year ago, and then progress really slowed, as every time I watched a movie, another one would pop up on to the list, and something I’d watched, drop off. Culturally popular movies tend to skyrocket onto the list, and then steadily drop down, and often off, the list over time. Some movies were hard to come by, with the library not having copies and not seemingly available to rent and download. I ended up renting a number of movies from iTunes since the wait list for library copies was weeks or months.

My ratings of movies agree with the masses on IMDb about 60% of the time, maybe a little above or below, but occasionally I strongly disagree. Of the five movies I’ve rated at 10 of 10 (Rififi, Spirited Away, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, and Chinatown), only Rififi is not on the list, though it still is a respectable 8.2. On the low end, movies I rated 4, 3, and 2 (The Departed, Gone with the Wind, Barry Lyndon, and Scarface) are still in the top 250.

I am in the process of moving my “movies watched” list from a Macintosh application, DVDpedia, to IMDb. There is a some loss of function, but there are benefits such as not having to enter movie data manually, and changing IMDb entries as movies moved up and down. I used to keep track of the Roger Ebert ratings on movies, as his ratings matched my own more often that other sources (but not always!). But with Roger gone, this became less and less useful. Moving to IMDb is part of my general move from laptop to Internet resources, towards the time someday when I have Internet access but no laptop. iOS devices instead.

My IMDb page is at, for your entertainment.

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Escalante way back

paintbrush & sandstone

paintbrush & sandstone, Deer Creek

I am gradually digitizing my slides, and I just completed all my Escalante trips and uploaded to Flickr. Here they are, if you like old photos. The first two trips were taken with an Instamatic square frame camera, the next three with an Olympus OM-1, and then an Olympus Stylus. I’ve also included my three more recent trips, all digital. I took several trips during my no-photos time, as well, but of course have no record of those.

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Theatre Spring 2016

The links to each play will, sooner or later, expire.


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Reading in the digital world

I was recently looking at my “library” of books. I have only a few very favorites remaining as physical copies on my bookshelf, but I have many Kindle and Audible books. Just as in the old days when I had many unread books on the shelf, many of them purchased and unread years later, I have many unread on my digital shelf.

So I’m going to get many of them read this summer by “reading” (listening) while I’m backpacking. This is something I’ve shied away from for years because I don’t want to separate myself even a bit from nature. I’ve often taken my iPod nano (or other devices) to read just before bed, but on most days I’m exhausted and fall asleep, and spend too much time the next day trying to figure out where I was, so I can continue from that point. Unlike some people, I seem to remember nothing of what I “read” when I’m asleep. On my last backpack trip I “read” quite a bit, finishing one short book and half of a longer one while hiking, and also got another half short book read while on the train (Amtrak and BART).

I have a number of books in both Kindle and Audible versions, which with the WhisperSync technology allows me to switch back and forth. After buying a Kindle book, the Audible match can be purchased at a considerable discount. Strangely, it doesn’t go the other way, having purchased an Audible recorded book doesn’t provide any discount on the Kindle book. At any rate, many of my digital books I can read with the Kindle app or listen to, so I’m listening to them on my iPod.

goodreads_logo.pngAnother change I’ve just started is to keep track of the books I own, am reading or want to read, online. I picked a service called GoodReads. I’ve loaded most but not all of my digital books there, and am now going to keep track of my status there instead of in the Macintosh application BookPedia. I have yet to move everything over, and have not input any of my physical books at all, but will.

If you are interested in what I own, what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I want to read, it is there in my profile on GoodReads. You can also see my favorite authors, or at least the ones for which I’ve created a separate bookshelf.

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Berkeley to Clayton backpack


Mt. Diablo foothills

Continuing my repeat trips on the American Discovery Trail, this time I backpacked from Berkeley to Clayton, along American Discovery Trail segments 8 and 7. I skipped the walk from Jack London Square to Berkeley, as I knew my feet did not need all that walking on pavement. So I started from the Berkeley BART station, heading up Bancroft to the Jordan Fire Trail up through Strawberry Canyon on the UC Berkeley campus. I deviated from the route to follow what I’m calling Panoramic Ridge, along Panoramic Drive and then the ridge top trail, sometimes quite steep, up to Grizzly Peak Rd and over into Tilden Park near the steam train. I walked along Skyline Trail north to Inspiration Point and then down to cross San Pablo Creek and up to Briones Reservoir, to Bear Creek staging area for for a late lunch, and then up onto the ridge. All along the trail today there was coyote scat with plum pits in it. Plums are abundant this year, and there are quite a number of either historical or feral plums along the trail. I camped near Russell Peak, where there happens to be a flat spot to sleep and picnic table. There are no legal spots to camp along this route, so I just pick less obvious spots. The night was cold and windy.

The next day I went down along the ADT to Walnut Creek and stopped by a Starbucks to recharge my phone and iPod (which I’d left playing during the night and depleted) and have a cup of iced tea. Then along the canal, through Heather Glen Park, and up onto Shell Ridge which heads southeast into the foothills of Mt. Diablo. Though the grass is all dried and the flowers few, this is a still a beautiful ridge. I camped again at Wall Point, where I’d camped in January 2014. That being a warm winter and this being a stretch of cool weather during the summer, the temps and wind were about the same.

In the morning clouds were hanging about the top of Mt. Diablo. I thought the climb to the top would be hard, about 2300 feet from campsite to peak, but it turned out to be easy in the morning when I was fresh. It was too cold to hang around on the peak, but the views in nearly all directions are worth going on any day. Heading down the north side, I took the Bald Ridge trail instead of the road, avoiding the steep loose surface, though the trail itself was pretty steep and I had to dance around poison oak. Mt. Diablo is simply steep, and if there are non-steep trails there, I haven’t been on them yet. I walked down Mitchell Canyon, and into the town of Clayton. Took the bus to Concord BART, BART to Richmond, and the Amtrak Capitol Corridor home to Sacramento.

This is my third time on the ADT-CA-8 segment, and second on the ADT-CA-7 segment. I did not do the part from Clayton to Antioch, though it would have been a good day to do so with the much cooler temperatures on this very sunny route. I am making an effort to take my feet to the point where they are uncomfortable and sore, but not to the point of damage, and Clayton seemed like a good balance.

This trip is a strange mix of urban and wild lands. It is not just that it starts in Berkeley, crosses through Walnut Creek, and ends in Clayton, but that from any vantage point there are views to the suburbs and often even to San Francisco. But closer to hand, or to foot, the country can be quite wild, and seem like it is miles away from anything. At night, looking out, the lights of some city or another are very visible, but looking up, there are the stars and in this case the first quarter moon. This is also a trail with a number of entry and exit points, if desired, including Orinda, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Clayton. It could be done as day hikes as well, and in fact I will likely to back and explore some of the side trails that look interesting but are not the main route.

Photos on Flickr

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Point Reyes to SF backpack 2016-05

Memorial Day weekend I backpacked from Point Reyes to San Francisco, in part along segment 9 of the American Discovery Trail (ADT), but with several side trips and alternate routes.

I took Amtrak, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, and Marin Stagecoach to Bear Valley Visitor Center on Friday, then walked in to the Point Reyes Hostel along the Wittenberg, Skyline, and Laguna trails. I enjoyed the night there, enjoying the quiet. This is the only hostel I know of with no cell phone service and no WiFi. Not to mention berries just ripening nearby.


Saturday I walked out on the Coast Trail, north a bit to Limantour Beach, waded into the surf, and then proceeded south along the the Coast Trail and ADT route. At Bear Valley I stuck to the Coast Trail rather than ADT, and walked out to Wildcat Camp for lunch. Then inland along the Stewart and Greenpicker trails, down to Olema Valley Trail to the Randall Trail, up onto Bolinas Ridge and then south. This day I saw far more reptiles, lizards and snakes, than I usually see along the trail. It is strange to see the redwood forest up on top of the ridge when it doesn’t really exist lower down. I camped in a brushy spot with a view of Stinson Beach and the ocean beyond.

Continue reading

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Escalante adventures

Many months later I am finally getting around to posting on my March trip to the Escalante area. Sometimes I have to choose between documenting my trips, and taking another trip, but in this case it relates to being very busy with work.

Joe & animals & portrait rock 2

As we have done three times now, Joe Herbst and I headed to the Escalante area for spring break, March 20-26. We had Sassy the horse, for Joe, and Ruby the mule for me, plus the dogs. We camped the same place above Harris Wash that we’d camped five years ago, an out-of-the-way place with good views in all directions. The beginning of the weeks saw really high winds, high enough to essentially prevent sleep, and wild skies with a bit of rain. Fortunately our camp site has stable clay and rock soil, so there wasn’t any blowing sand and dust that we’d have had if we down in the washes.

We did three day rides out from camp,one in the northern part of 25-Mile Wash including a hoodoo maze of Entrada(?) sandstone, and one in the badlands south of Harris Wash and east of our camp. If not for the date tags on photos, I’d probably not even remember that much. All good rides, with storms playing about overhead and on the horizon but we got wet only once. Joe has spent a lot of time riding this area, so he knows a lot of the destinations, but likes to put them together in different ways.

One day we rode down into the upper canyon of 25-Mile wash, with which Joe was mightily impressed, not having gone that far before. The canyon gradually drops below a rimrock and then deepens impressively. 25-Mile goes through several canyons, and the lower ones may or may not be rideable. I backpacked 25-Miles years ago (1993?), but I wasn’t looking with horse-eyes back then so I’m not sure, but hopefully we will get a chance to try it in some future year.

We moved our camp to 25-Mile Wash, where a branch of the Egypt road comes down to a corral, and did a short exploratory ride in the upper wash area.

Joe at Egypt.jpgThe final riding day we went out to Egypt. I’ve been here before, several times, but Joe never had. It is miles out through the badlands, in and out of washes, and through the piñon-juniper forest, to the edge of the world, where the plateau drops off into the Escalante Canyons. It may be the most spectacular view anywhere in the Escalante area. The origin of the Egypt appellation is fuzzy, I had always thought that it referred to the huge blocks of sandstone that tumble down below the rim, but checking place names later it seems to be a more general reference to the feel of the whole area. We spent a lot of time on the rim just looking, and speculating about the names and nature of the Henry Mountains to the northeast, and the bison herd, and wondering what areas of the canyons below and across from us could be ridden, and which only hiked, and which neither. The Henry’s had some new snow on them from the storms of the last few days. Coming back, we go spectacular views down into the side canyons of Harris Wash.

Given that I only ride with Joe once a year, and these multiple ride trips less often than that, I’m not in shape for all-day rides. Instead, we usually ride for 3-4 hours, though we did one 6 hour day. That leaves plenty of time for reading, eating, sky watching, napping, and most important, story telling. Joe and I have been doing things together since sixth or seventh grade, though with some long gaps when we lost touch, so we have a wealth of stories to tell. As an advantage to being older now, with gradually decreasing memory, we don’t remember which stories we have told and which not, so we tell them again. I think sometimes the details get fitted a bit to the current situation rather than the actual facts, but with no one there to contradict, the stories flow. Joe puts up a pretty good kitchen, so I eat way better on these trips than I ever do backpacking, or even than I did when I used to car camp.

Photos on Flickr:


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